Excerpts from an essay in Moonlight in Ground Spruce Woods:
•So this autumn I plan to get religion. I am crafting an Armageddon wine bar out of an old telephone table. Among other doom-related paraphernalia, a sickle, ghostly music, paintings of epitaphs and pagan joy, I plan to include a video installation of a private book burning. My theory is that the death of true religion is inversely proportionate to the massive CO2 inflation of our atmosphere.
•The point I need to make is that because supernatural fear is dead among the well-fed of the world, desire for and obtainability of creature comforts has risen exponentially. Manufacturer Greed married Consumer Narcissist and now their children demand an iPhone.
•All desires have been met and exploited. Smallpox hasn’t stopped by for a visit in over a century. The dreaded childhood diseases have virtually disappeared. Sure, Malaria and Cholera still visit the poor and desperate, but the poor and desperate are an ocean away from the obscene comforts of a McDonald’s Playland. And those unfortunate no-nothings still possess a wild fear of the supernatural, therefore hold neither the power nor the will toward annihilation.
•Merely 200 years ago European pioneers of my local paradise could be downright God-praising thankful with a hard packed floor and a daily self-gathered and cooked meal in February. Today one should expect nothing less than marble tile imported from Moldavia, and a dinner of Colorado beef, Guatemala Brussels sprouts, Michigan butter, Spanish olive oil, Japanese rice noodles, Mediterranean salt, Mexico avocado and California greens—all washed down with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, imported on an airplane from Argentina...
•If nineteenth century Johnny and Susy aren’t dead from starvation or disease by their fifth birthday, then there is more time and energy available to improve upon the lives of the family.
Johnny will leave the farm and open a hardware store in the village. Suzy will go to college and marry the son of an industrialist. Just this turn of one generation might triple their output of CO2. Proportionately their fear of punishment after death has subsided, and church or synagogue or mosque has become a symbolic hour a week of “going through the motions.”
Their children perform the ritual, but with more expensive presents under the Christmas tree, a golden dradel, or imported Medjool dates for Eid ul-Fitr.
•So the Armageddon Wine Bar will be a big hit this year at the local art association. Everybody will get the picture and leave with the promise to neither wash their hands nor ingest a life-saving antibiotic ever again. Children will suffer. Many will die young, and soon there will be a push to re-enshrine the old saviors of yesteryear. Johnny will lay shivering on his death bed, and Mother will hold the Good Book to her breast, praying every second for the fever to go down. Father will wail from the barn begging not to be forsaken. The fever will lift, the family heave sighs of thanks, and although Johnny’s blind as a mole now, at least his wretched life was spared, and nobody ever dreamed again a credit card fantasy shopping spree. Suzy got good at shearing. Johnny whittled pegs by the fire. And they lived the dutiful life of fear of smite from an angry God, and prospered more or less.
Superstition is the only way back to survival. Science can prop up our numbers into the billions of healthy and strong. Though I don’t see the light of how it will maintain these numbers for several more decades. Do you?